Undergrad team wins USC global health case competition, will compete nationally in Atlanta

Dozens of suit-clad students gathered at the Soto Street Building last Friday to present their ideas on how to best spend 50 million dollars to build sustainable programs for Haiti. After hours of presentations and deliberations, a team of six multidisciplinary undergraduates won and will now represent the University of Southern California at a national global health case competition.
Just four days before, the 15 teams of undergraduate and graduate students of the Global Health Case Competition were tasked with developing strategic plans for an imaginary 50 million dollar donation to the International Medical Corps. From water sanitation systems to ideas like “intellectual infrastructure,” each team developed comprehensive—and creative—strategies to build healthy, self-sustaining Haitian communities.

The teams, acting as consultants for IMC, presented their ideas to a handful of USC faculty judges, including Heather Wipfli, Virginia Kuhn, Jane Schmitz, Jim Zhang, Michael Cousineau, Hovig Tchalian and Ivette Flores Guintu, who then chose four groups to move on to the finals later that evening.

The finalists were given notice they should expect a twist in the case and sure enough, USC Institute for Global Health Associate Director Heather Wipfli announced a pretend Category 4 hurricane had struck Haiti earlier in the day. The teams were given 45 minutes to adjust their presentations to accommodate the anticipated destruction and ensuing health concerns.

Among the second round of judges were Haitian microfinance expert Claude Alexandre, Mexican Secretary for Prevention and Health Mauricio Hernández-Ávila, Sofia Charvel, IMC Vice President of Program Policy and Planning Stephen Tomlin, IMC Senior Communications Officer Jaya Vadlamudi, Dean of Medical Education Henri Ford and USC Institute for Global Health Director Jonathan Samet.

By an almost-unanimous vote, a team of undergraduate students won the competition and will now move on to compete at the national Emory University Global Case Competition later this month for a chance to win $6,000.

The winning team comprised the following six students: Hao-Hua Wu, Rebecca Gao, Peter Eskander, Divya Bhamidipati, Sarah Bridge, and Jasmine Thum. The students represented diverse backgrounds of study, including biological sciences, East Asian studies, global health, theater, psychology, Spanish and biomedical engineering.